Greensboro Pride’s 12th annual festival took place Saturday in Downtown Greensboro on South Elm Street. The event provided live entertainment, informational booths and food trucks among its many vendors and participants.
The festival is hosted each year by Alternative Resources of the Triad (ART), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to be actively involved with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning communities of the Triad and surrounding areas. The group focuses on providing a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere during Pride not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but for other minority populations as well.
One of the most prominent aspects of this year’s festival was the star-studded entertainment. The headliners included the ever-popular drag queen Ebony Addams, known primarily for her Miss NC USA and Miss NC International wins, the talented Jamie Monroe an entertainer, activist and proud transgender woman, and prominent hip-hop musician Ed E. Ruger.
Other hosts and entertainers featured included Tia Chanellla, Anjelica Dust, Ariel Nicole Knight Addams and a number of other LGBTQ+ centric performers.
The festival was preceded by a week of diverse, engaging events throughout the community. The first, comically and appropriately titled “Come Dine With the Queen,” occurred on Sept. 13 at First Carolina Delicatessen. Visitors had the opportunity to meet and greet with popular drag queens at the family-friendly eatery, with 10 percent of the daily purchase sales going towards the Greensboro Pride celebration.
The week’s other events were comprised of an inclusive interfaith service at the Congressional United Church of Christ on Sept. 14, and a drag queen bingo night at Elm Street Center on Sept. 15.
Upon walking into the festival area, guests stood in shock as they were met with the sheer number of vendors present at the event. With everything from face painting to dunking booths, coloring pages to glitter tattoos, the possibilities for entertainment were endless. A number of food trucks lined one street, selling their extensive range of delicacies, including international and vegan fare.
However, the most notable vendors were those of activists and community organizations, with groups like the Human Rights Campaign, Equality NC, The Trevor Project and PFLAG making their appearance. Other associations, though not specifically LGBTQ+ centric, shared the ways in which their issues impacted the community. Planned Parenthood advocated for safe reproductive health, while the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention armed visitors with knowledge and resources to assist those struggling with mental health conditions.
While staring over the heads of the crowd, one would notice that the streets were awash with a multitude of glowing hues. Patrons were decked head to toe in their most multicolored, prideful gear, donning rainbow tutus, glitter hair roots, striped socks and more. This celebration was not limited to just human guests, with many visitors choosing to bring their furry friends along – most notable was the not-so-furry bearded dragon one woman was carrying in her transparent backpack.
There was a spirit of elation and oneness in the air; people mingled with strangers, took tacky photos with friends and cheered as each entertainment act traipsed onto the colorful, rainbow-striped stage. People of all segments of the LGBTQ+ population, as well as straight allies, stood in solidarity with each other, refusing to let little things like the street corner protesters dampen their mood.
Although Greensboro Pride is not the largest Pride event in the state, the passion and dedication the volunteers, vendors and visitors hold for the festival is no small feat. One woman expressed her appreciation for and commitment to the event: “It really fosters a sense of unity and community engagement,” she said. “They try their best to make everyone feel welcome which is really admirable.”
The focus on representation is especially strong this year – with a highlighted performance from Mexican entertainer Penélope D’ Félix drawing an extensive Hispanic and Latinx crowd, as well as the overwhelmingly diverse selection of booths catering to differing gender, racial, and socioeconomic segments, there was something for everyone at the festival.
Greensboro Pride is a place in which people across the gender and sexuality spectrums can find solace, affirmation and appreciation, all the while making friends and acquaintances that could last a lifetime. Each individual present expressed an attitude of overwhelming positivity and kindness, fully proving the slogan that was front and center at so many booths that day – love truly has no labels.